Yesterday...I shared the embarking upon of an adventure and it appears that I have a small band of friends on the journey. The journey?
* Self effort and "law keeping"
* Action independent of God, and
* "Religion" as a form or mindset
* Obedience to the still small voice of God
* True relationship with God, and
* The demise of my old self "by faith"
The fact that some friends heard in the words written here, a call that resonated with them, is exciting and sobering all at once. It is exciting because any journey is better with friends. It is sobering because I think of something Oswald Chambers said:
If I allow any private deflection from God in my life, everyone about me suffers. When once you allow physical selfishness, mental slovenliness, moral obtuseness, spiritual density, everyone belonging to your crowd will suffer.
The wonderful thing though, is that where once this would have lain on my shoulders as a doom filled weight of responsibility; "my" responsibility; "doom filled" because it is a standard I can't live up to; the very journey I am on is to get as far away from that kind of thinking as possible. Instead my responsibility is to keep making small choices daily, to surrender my will and exchange the pale imitation of life in Christ, for the vibrant explosion of his life in mine.
**************My friend Dave wrote in yesterday's comment section:
Belinda, we've really got to have a long chat with the 'die to self' concept. I'm not sure I get it. I get being true to self and being authentic and giving life to 'me-ness' in God. I just don't get death of self - so can you help me with this?
I thought that I should try to answer that here, because it is so important. Dying to self doesn't mean losing my identity or "self," but becoming the newly created-in-Christ self. It is all that you said, Dave, but so much more.I can't get there by trying harder but I can get there by believing that I did die "in him." I've embedded a couple of passages from The Message paraphrase of the Bible that speak to this but really, when you start seeing this it is everywhere you read in the epistles. In this passage from Galatians, Paul speaks about the gravitational pull back to "the law" and being circumcised.
11-13Now, in these last sentences, I want to emphasize in the bold scrawls of my personal handwriting the immense importance of what I have written to you. These people who are attempting to force the ways of circumcision on you have only one motive: They want an easy way to look good before others, lacking the courage to live by a faith that shares Christ's suffering and death. All their talk about the law is gas. They themselves don't keep the law! And they are highly selective in the laws they do observe. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast of their success in recruiting you to their side. That is contemptible!
14-16For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can't you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them! (Galatians 6:11-16, The Message)
I've been reading Romans, where it is so clear. Here is a section paraphrased in The Message. Here it is--the two great gifts in Christ. As Watchman Nee puts it, Christ frees us from both "sin" and "sins."